Summary: Comparing & Contrasting Kratom & Ashwagandha
|Botanical Name||Mitragyna speciosa||Withania somnifera|
|Plant Family||Rubiaceae (Coffee Family)||Solanaceae (Tomato Family)|
|Active Ingredients||Mitragynine & Related Alkaloids||Withanolides (Alkaloids)|
|Origin||Southeast Asia||Indian Subcontinent|
|Health Applications||To enhance energy & focus|
As a nootropic
To alleviate pain
To support sleep
To alleviate anxiety
|As an adaptogen|
To relieve stress
To improve general health
To support hormone balance
To regulate blood sugar
|Dosage Range||1–12 grams||0.5–5 grams|
|Most Common Side Effects||Lethargy|
|Side effects are extremely rare|
|Legality||Legal in most, but not all places||Legal worldwide|
|Taste||Bitter & grassy||Bitter, pungent, & sweet|
What Is Kratom?
Kratom is a plant that grows in most Southeast Asian countries. It’s especially prominent in Indonesia.
Kratom is used both medicinally and recreationally.
Recreationally, kratom users take the plant for its ability to induce a sense of elation and euphoria.
Medicinally, kratom has a variety of benefits. It can be used as both a stimulant and a sedative, depending on the dose. In low doses, it works to boost energy, enhance focus and concentration, and alleviates minor aches and pains.
In higher doses, it becomes a formidable painkiller, anxiolytic, euphoric, and sedative.
The kratom strain you’re using also has a big impact on the effects of kratom:
- White vein strains are the most stimulating
- Red veins are the most sedative
- Green veins are somewhere in the middle
Learning to balance the effects of different strains is instrumental for anyone who wants to maximize their kratom use.
What Are the Benefits of Kratom?
Kratom has a variety of different benefits. We will separate the benefits by the different color categories, so you know what you’re getting into.
However, remember that just about any of these benefits can be enjoyed with any strain of kratom. The trick lies in learning how to adjust your dose properly.
For reference, though, white strains are very unlikely to produce sedation or pain relief. Red strains are less likely to be seriously stimulating, although they can be in small amounts.
Other than that, low doses of any strain will generally lead to more energy and focus, whereas high doses are more likely to reduce pain and cause relaxation.
Benefits of Red Kratom
Red kratom is especially useful for helping to provide sedation and relaxation. This benefit is useful for people who struggle with insomnia, chronic pain, or anxiety. The sedation associated with red strains can be quite strong, however, so it’s not recommended to use them during the day.
2. Pain Relief
Red kratom strains are the most effective at relieving pain. Red strains are processed and fermented in a way that causes certain chemical components in kratom to be transformed into more effective pain-relieving compounds.
This conversion produces a higher concentration of 7-hydroxy-mitragynine. This compound is the most potent alkaloid in kratom, and it targets opioid receptors. The opioid system is responsible for regulating pain in the body, amongst other things. By stimulating this system, kratom can produce profound pain relief.
3. Anxiety Relief
Red strains also excel at treating anxiety. Green and white strains can be useful for treating mild cases of anxiety, depending on the person. However, some may find that the stimulation caused by these strains actually provokes anxiety.
If you’re looking to treat a particularly severe case of anxiety, you might want to stick with a red strain. The accompanying sedation and relaxation can produce significant relief.
Benefits of Green Kratom
Green kratom is particularly well-known for its ability to balance the opposing kratom effects. Green kratom can cause anxiety relief and, at high doses, pain relief. However, it excels at producing the following effects.
1. Mood Boost
Green kratom is one of the best strains for people hoping to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of kratom. Green strains target the dopamine system as well as the opioid system. This allows them to cause a rush of euphoria in addition to numbing unwanted feelings like depression or anxiety.
Green strains are known for producing a strong burst of energy. This tends to fade into a sense of relaxation, especially when taken at high doses.
Benefits of White Kratom
White kratom differs in the sense that it provides a stimulating experience through-and-through. There are some people who find that white kratom helps them power through anxiety. However, don’t expect this type of kratom to produce any pain relief or sedation.
Instead, white kratom can help you with the following.
1. Improving Focus & Concentration
Green kratom can also be useful for boosting focus and concentration, but nothing excels at this like white kratom. White kratom can produce laser-focus that lasts for several hours. This makes it a great tool for studying and getting work done.
White kratom produces significant mental and physical stimulation. It can do this to the point of causing insomnia, so be sure that you don’t take it too late at night.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is the root of the Withania somnifera plant. Also known as Indian ginseng, this herb is part of a class of plants that are called adaptogens.
Adaptogens are unique in the sense that they can provide different effects depending on the needs of the individual. This is different from kratom, which produces predictable effects based on the dose rather than the internal state of the user.
Adaptogens are named as such because they help the body adapt to stress and adverse situations. Adaptogens can help to correct hormonal imbalances, restore or balance energy levels, improve cognition, and so on.
However, if you’re in perfect health, an adaptogen might do things a bit differently. If your body is already in a state of balance, then the adaptogen may exert specific effects or none at all.
Ashwagandha is specifically well-known for its influence on libido, energy, and hormones. It’s used by men to help regulate testosterone levels — and by women for estrogen and progesterone balance.
What Are The Benefits of Ashwagandha?
As an adaptogen, the list of benefits for ashwagandha is very long. Many of its benefits may not seem directly correlated. These effects come as a byproduct of the herb’s ability to regulate homeostasis (balance) and improve our ability to resist and adapt to stresses in our environment.
1. Restoring Energy
Ashwagandha can help bring energy into the body, but it does this in an entirely different fashion than kratom.
Whereas kratom is a stimulant that boosts energy by increasing the function of the nervous system, ashwagandha operates by restoring balance to the various systems in the body. It can help to reduce the effects of chronic fatigue or lethargy caused by various conditions, especially hormonal conditions.
2. Boosting Cognition
Ashwagandha works as a natural nootropic — a substance that improves cognitive function. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve memory and general brain function and can even be used to help repair brain damage caused by diseases.
Ashwagandha is also neuroprotective: it helps protect brain cells from damage and degradation. This can slow the onset of cognitive decline.
3. Antioxidant Properties
One of the reasons that ashwagandha is neuroprotective is because it functions as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help slow down the rate of cellular oxidation and thus keep cells healthier for longer.
However, ashwagandha’s antioxidant properties don’t just affect the brain. Ashwagandha can help slow oxidation throughout the body. This can reduce the onset of diseases, inflammation, and aging.
4. Boosting Testosterone
One of the most important and well-studied benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to boost testosterone levels.
Because of this, ashwagandha can contribute to a host of benefits, all associated with well-balanced and healthy testosterone levels:
- Increased muscle mass and growth — Ashwagandha is a popular workout supplement because it can naturally enhance testosterone levels. This, in turn, improves the rate at which your muscle tissue builds.
- Improved fertility — Testosterone is largely responsible for male fertility. By boosting it, ashwagandha has been shown to help restore sperm production and sperm count in infertile men.
- Improved libido — Testosterone is also the main male sex hormone. By boosting testosterone levels, ashwagandha can contribute to a healthy and strong libido.
5. Improving Emotional Health
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha can have a very powerful and profound effect on emotional health.
The emotional benefits of ashwagandha include:
- Stress — The primary reason that adaptogens are marketed is to help people adapt to stress. Ashwagandha can reduce both the physical and psychological side effects of stress.
- Anxiety — Ashwagandha has a powerful effect on anxiety and can be useful even in the treatment of long-term anxiety disorders. People have used it to manage panic attacks and overcome social anxiety.
- Depression — Ashwagandha can help to bring about emotional balance and fight off conditions like depression. In some cases, this might result from its ability to balance hormones (low testosterone can cause depression). In other cases, it might eliminate the symptoms of depression (fatigue, anxiety, low libido) and thus provide an avenue for people to overcome the problem.
6. Regulates Cortisol
Cortisol is commonly referred to as the ‘stress hormone,’ and many consider it the polar opposite of testosterone. Ashwagandha can help to reduce cortisol levels, especially in people who have chronically high levels of this hormone.
7. Improving Blood Sugar & Cholesterol
Ashwagandha can also help to regulate the health of the blood by balancing both blood sugar and cholesterol.
It balances blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin secreted by the body as well as enhancing sensitivity to insulin. It works in both diabetic patients and those who are currently healthy.
Ashwagandha can also help to reduce the levels of HDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream.
Kratom vs. Ashwagandha: Differences & Similarities
These two plants share a few of the same benefits, although they produce these benefits in completely different ways.
Kratom vs. Ashwagandha: Health Applications
Kratom has a more direct effect on the human brain and body. Its effects are more like a rollercoaster: you take your kratom, effects intensify and quickly peak, and then the experience gradually fizzles out.
Ashwagandha, on the other hand, is a much more gradual and subtle experience. Ashwagandha does not get you high. Many people don’t actually notice any immediate effects from ashwagandha. Its benefits are exerted more indirectly and can take a week or more of regular use before you even notice them.
People generally notice the effects of ashwagandha setting in after using the plant for a few days. After becoming familiar with it, they may become able to notice acute effects such as the reduction of anxiety after taking a dose.
Kratom vs. Ashwagandha: Side Effects & Safety
Kratom and ashwagandha are quite different in terms of side effects and safety.
It’s significantly more likely that you’ll experience side effects from kratom compared to ashwagandha.
The main side effects of kratom are dizziness, nausea, sedation, and lethargy. If you’re careful with the dose you’re using and are familiar with the way your body reacts to kratom; side effects can be kept to a minimum.
Ashwagandha has very few side effects. As an adaptogen, this herb regulates homeostasis (balance) in the body rather than causing any direct changes or effects.
Kratom, on the other hand, directly causes changes to the body, which is what makes it so useful as a source of medicine. This also makes it more likely to result in side effects. You can’t really have it both ways.
Kratom vs. Ashwagandha: Dosage Range
Both kratom and ashwagandha come in the same forms — a dried powder or capsules (most common) or liquid extracts.
The dosages of these two plants in powdered form are comparable.
The dosage range for ashwagandha is between 0.5 and 5 grams of powder. The dose of kratom is between 0.5 and 12 grams.
The main difference in terms of doses is the effects of low and high doses for each plant.
For kratom, a low dose is going to have a stimulating effect like coffee, while a higher dose is sedative.
Ashwagandha has the same effect at low and high doses. However, the intensity of the effects becomes stronger with higher doses (obviously).
Kratom vs. Ashwagandha: Legality
Because of the powerful effects kratom has on the body, it’s no surprise this herb is misunderstood. Some governments ban kratom, both here in the United States as well as elsewhere in the world (such as Thailand, Australia, and parts of Europe).
In the US, most states consider this herb legal, and it isn’t banned by the federal government (though, not for lack of trying).
Ashwagandha, on the other hand, has very few noticeable effects and has no intoxicating or euphoric qualities whatsoever. There are virtually no side effects to this herb when used in the recommended dosage range. Because of this, ashwagandha is legal worldwide. There are no countries or states that ban this herb in any context.
Mixing Kratom & Ashwagandha: Is It Safe?
Many people have found success and synergy by mixing kratom and ashwagandha together. Before doing this, there are a couple of things to take in mind.
Firstly, there hasn’t been a lot of studies done on the specific interactions between these herbs. While there’s no reason to suspect the combination might be dangerous, there’s also no scientific evidence to prove that it’s not.
Nonetheless, hundreds of people have reported positive effects. It’s important to remember that you start your dosage as small as possible.
If you’ve never used either of these herbs, start using them separately. Introducing two herbs at the same time can confuse your body and make it impossible to tell which herb is actually benefiting you in which ways.
The Benefits of Mixing Kratom & Ashwagandha
There are a few reasons that you might want to mix these two plants together.
Some people mix them because they want the benefits that come separately from each plant; others mix them because of the synergy these two plants offer together. Kratom is stimulating and painkilling to address immediate pain or fatigue, while the ashwagandha helps address the source of these symptoms over the long term.
Here are a few reasons why people might choose to stack ashwagandha and kratom together:
1. Managing Testosterone Levels
Long-term kratom use is believed to have a negative influence on testosterone. In fact, many of the symptoms of long-term kratom use (decreased libido, lethargy, brain fog, depression, and anxiety) are similar symptoms to those experienced by people with low testosterone.
Ashwagandha, on the other hand, has the powerful ability to help increase testosterone.
It’s not smart to use this as a band-aid approach or an excuse to abuse kratom because you can ‘counteract the side effects.’ However, people who must take kratom consistently for pain or anxiety might find this benefit invaluable.
This combo is used primarily to offset some of the negative long-term effects of daily kratom use.
2. Kratom Potentiation
Many people report that ashwagandha works as a potentiator for kratom. A potentiator is a substance that increases the effectiveness of another substance.
Many people report that ashwagandha works as a potentiator, although there’s not really any scientific evidence as to why this would be the case. Others speculate that ashwagandha works better as a synergistic herb, which simply accentuates and works well with kratom.
3. Managing Kratom Addiction
There are a number of reasons that ashwagandha might be useful for helping people manage a kratom addiction.
- As a potentiator, ashwagandha may help to reduce the overall amount of kratom that you use.
- Ashwagandha can help to eliminate some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with kratom. It can improve energy and fight fatigue, manage depression and anxiety, and decrease stress.
- Ashwagandha can help to counterbalance some of the side effects of long-term kratom use (although it should not be used as a band-aid).
4. Alleviating Side Effects of Low-Dose Kratom
People who use kratom for its energizing benefits usually take lower doses — somewhere between 1 and 5 grams. At this dose, kratom feels a lot like coffee. It’s a stimulant that helps eliminate feelings of fatigue and brain fog.
One of the potential side effects of this dose is anxiety or hyperstimulation. Just like drinking too much coffee, you might be left feeling a bit out of sorts.
Ashwagandha is a powerful relaxing herb — without being even remotely sedating. It works by regulating our primary stress hormone, cortisol, to help reduce the negative impact this hormone can have on the body.
By combining kratom with ashwagandha, users often report fewer anxious side effects when using lower doses of kratom.
How to Mix Kratom & Ashwagandha
Mixing these two herbs is very simple because they’re available in the same format. As a dried powder, you can simply weigh out the portions you want for each herb (more information about dosage in the next section) and combine them into a homogenous mixture of dried powder.
People who use these herbs together often will mix both herbs in bulk. You can mix kratom and ashwagandha at ratios of 1:1, but it’s more common to do a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of ashwagandha to kratom.
This means that for every gram of ashwagandha you have, you should add either 1, 2, or 3 grams of kratom.
Neither herb tastes very good, so most users follow what’s called the “toss and wash” method for consuming them.
This method involves taking a spoonful of the dried powder and washing it down with some water or juice immediately after. It’s not pleasant, but it only lasts a few seconds this way.
Dosing Kratom With Ashwagandha
The first thing that you’re going to want to do is make sure that you get your dosage right.
Finding out your kratom dose is generally a trial-and-error process. Many people find kratom to be quite finicky and have to spend a few days, if not weeks, figuring out the ideal dosage. Taking too little can be underwhelming; taking too much can cause unpleasant side effects.
Ashwagandha is generally easier to dose. Since it doesn’t cause you to get high, there’s not much risk of taking too much. It’s generally recommended to take somewhere between 0.5 and 5 grams.
Start small and increase the dose gradually. Here are a few stages you can follow when just starting with this combination:
Kratom & Ashwagandha Dose For Energy
- Day 1 — 1 gram of kratom + 0.5 grams of ashwagandha
- Day 2 — 2 grams of kratom + 1 grams of ashwagandha
- Day 3 — 2.5 grams of kratom + 1.5 grams of ashwagandha
Kratom & Ashwagandha Dose For Sleep & Pain
- Day 1 — 4 grams of kratom + 2 grams of ashwagandha
- Day 2 — 5 grams of kratom + 2.5 grams of ashwagandha
- Day 3 — 6 grams of kratom + 3 grams of ashwagandha
From here, you can keep increasing the dose of kratom until you find what works best for you. Once you’ve found a dose that does the trick, stop here — there’s no sense increasing the dose if you don’t need to.
You can also play around with the dose of ashwagandha as you see fit.
Final Thoughts: Why Users Mix Ashwagandha With Kratom
Ashwagandha and kratom are two powerful herbs that work well together. There is synergy between the herbs, and they can accentuate each other’s effects.
Ashwagandha is used to offset some of the negative effects of kratom — such as anxiety or nausea. It’s also used to offset potential long-term side effects of frequent kratom use, like reduced testosterone levels or dependency.
Ashwagandha is also used to boost kratom’s other effects — such as its sleep-supportive benefits, immune-boosting benefits, and more. It’s a great combination to use for autoimmune-related pain disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or fibromyalgia.